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William Leonard Evans Sr.

Born on 10-12-1883. He was born in Louisville, KY. He was accomplished in the area of Community. He later died on 9-6-1966.
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William L. Evans was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1883. He graduated from Fisk University, studied architecture and engineering at Columbia University and became a partner of an architectural firm in Louisville by the 1920s. He became the first Industrial Secretary of the Chicago Urban League. From there, he came to Buffalo New York in 1927 as the first Executive Director of that city's Urban League. He remained in that position until his retirement in 1963.

Because of the one-sided and often biased reporting of crime news concerning Black persons, Evans wrote a thesis which earned him a Master's Degree in Sociology from the University at Buffalo in 1935. This led to some agreement on the part of local newspaper editors to encourage their staff reporters to write unbiased accounts of crime. Mr. Evans also pioneered an in-depth study of the housing problem in Buffalo. He wrote and published a booklet entitled "Race Fear and Housing". This followed considerable discrimination in both public and private housing and gained the attention of the National Urban League.

Mr. Evans conducted seminars on Negro life in the Sociology Department of the University of Buffalo and Buffalo State Teacher's College. Through these seminars, programs of the League were extended to church and civic groups. Many instances of racial segregation were investigated and thus spread the function of the League.

A skilled painter in oils, Mr. Evans was a member of the Buffalo Society of Artists which exhibited annually in the Albright Knox Art Gallery. Many of his paintings were publicized in the Buffalo Evening News art columns. A public exhibition of his work was held at the YWCA in 1968. Many of his paintings are now in the homes of Buffalo residents.

During World War II Mr. Evans was appointed as a member of the Selective Service Board to assist in decision making for young men drafted into military service. He was also Director of American Negro Day for the sale of War Bonds for the Buffalo area. His work resulted in the sale of more than two million dollars in War Bonds.

All of the services that the Urban League of Buffalo engaged in under his leadership had a significant impact on the lives of black and white Buffalonians. This administration of the League's community center's group work program resulted in the emergence of many future leaders of Buffalo's black community. The League's professional staff of paid and volunteer workers, its keen sensitivity and responsibility to the Black community and the judicious and expeditious manner in which it sough solutions to social and economic issues confronting Blacks won the League community support and respect. The League's harmonious relationships with the community and its accessibility reinforced the Black community's persistent demands for it to push further in certain directions and to initiate programs in others. The League's effort to open up job opportunities provided impetus and encouragement to thousands of African American workers.

Many citations and medals were received by Mr. Evans and were showered freely from discerning organizations and individuals. He was named one of the Citizens of the Year by the Buffalo Evening News in 1951. He was appointed by Mayor Mrug to the Commission to Improve Living Conditions in the Ellicott District in 1951.

Mr. Evans was a selfless man concerned for 38 years with the betterment of the minorities of Buffalo. He was fortunate to have had the frank, outgoing personality which enables him to be included in the private conferences and membership of groups which made important decisions. It was a frequent experience for him to be telephoned at any hour in his home when his advice or decisions were sought in an emergency. Nothing came before the welfare of the people of the city he came to serve.

Mr. Evans and the former Theresa Anderson Greene were married in 1948. She had formerly served as the Executive Assistant to Mr. Evans. She helped the League develop its broad program and supported it as an honorary member of its Board of Directors. She retired from the League in 1964. Mrs. Evans' biographical sketch can also be found on the Uncrowned Community Builders' site.

The Buffalo Urban League now offers annually the "Evans-Young Award" in the community to persons who most exemplify and perpetuate the contribution of Mr. Evans and Whitney Young. A contemporary of Mrs. Evans has written that he is "one of two persons in the Buffalo area who has contributed most to the Afro-American community".

He has also been called "An architect in human relations". Mr. Evans died in 1966 and is buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery.